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Goals for Year Three?

Zugzwang

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In a bit of a slump at the moment and have just slid over my 2 year anniversary - I need to set myself goals for this year as a way of motivating myself.

Year One was: Get a sax; Play with people; and Play a gig’. (tick, tick, and a slightly delayed, but booked within the year tick)
Year Two was more or less: Year One goals again; plus Start playing solos; and Don’t sound so crap - I mean ‘Work on my tone’ (Year One = pending tick, tick, tick. Year Two = tick, and What can I say? - the problem with unquantifiable goals.)
Year Three - ????

I know it’s my life etc etc but I’d be very grateful for suggestions - don’t think I can do Grades, but any goals that have worked for you at my stage of development, I’d love to hear.
 
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Zugzwang

Zugzwang

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Thank you @BigMartin ,@tatooandy67 and @kevgermany for replying to me. (and to those who 'liked' their answers). I looked, and you all seem to have had or are having lessons. (And decades of playing experience) One of the primary functions of a teacher is to set goals that are appropriate to the age/experience of the pupil, and then give them the tools to achieve it. If I could afford a teacher, I would have one, and they would be the first person I would turn to.
In the absence of that I use this Cafe.
There seems to be a bit of an Either/Or thing going on - if you set goals you're somehow missing the point of the joy of music, is that it?
 
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Jeanette

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I'm not sure setting goals is missing the point if you want to progress. I would have thought it essential, just be realistic and don't beat yourself up if you don't achieve them. Anything that gives you more skill would be a useful goal, some suggestions:

Commit to posting a BOTM or SOTM recording
Do you know all your scales
Buy a book of music that appeals and work through it., ideally one that gets progressively harder. - post recordings here for comment
Buy a book of duets and record one part then play along with the other.

Without knowing your shortcomings it's hard to advise. If you post some recordings here you should get some useful feedback

:)

Jx
 

Alice

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I don’t have a teacher any more because I could no longer afford his fee and put food on the table. It was a luxury expense and although he deserves every penny and I thought about cutting my lessons to one a month, that just seemed to make me coast along or flounder. I know exactly where you are coming from.
When I first started, I was keen to join a band, go busking, meet other people to play with, but I always had to travel to London to do so which cost more than my lessons. I’m not extrovert enough to busk alone. The only reason to do so would be for me to raise money for animal charities.
I also come to the Café for maintenance advice and to use the resources and OTM series of tunes and backing tracks. That and the music that inspired me in the first place, keeps me going. I am unhappily not playing at all at the moment because I’m recovering from a tooth extraction.
The only goal I have now is to achieve the tone that I want to hear myself play. The only way to do that is to practice regularly and for long enough each time so that by the end of the session I can truthfully say I’ve achieved something,
 

tatooandy67

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Hi @Zugzwang i think goals are a very important tool in our learning process, I am always setting myself new targets/goals, they could be to learn a new scale, play a new tune, improve on a tune I already know, the list is endless at least for me anyway but I like to think in small steps, small achievements and set myself targets that I can reach in a reasonable time frame so as to avoid frustration and to stay motivated as I find each step achieved in this journey we’ve all embarked on is one step closer to the ultimate achievement which I believe is making music and enjoying it for what it is, I’ve been learning now for just over a year so I’m still very much a novice and at times I feel that frustration at not being able to play as well as the players I like to listen to but instead of focusing on what I can’t do yet I try to think of how far along this road I’ve already travelled, it was only just over a year ago that I set my first goal of learning to play a single octave of a major scale in tune. I guess what I’m saying is the most important thing about learning/playing any instrument is the thing that gets you playing it
:sax:
 
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Zugzwang

Zugzwang

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@Jeanette, I'm not brave enough to post a recording. I do still record myself on my phone occasionally, but I don't get any better - just the old recordings get to sound worse and worse.
And no, I don't know my scales! Jamey Aebersold lists 42(!!!) in How to Play Jazz. Multiply that by 12 if you don't plan to sight read (15 if you do) So there's more or less 500 scales before even worrying about range or tempo. (I found a scary ABRSM list of tempos: Grade 1 = 60bpm, to Grade 5 = 126bpm, and Grade 8 = 176 Not in my lifetime.)
I don't mean to sound sarcastic or blocking - this thread is helpful to me, and hopefully to some others, because I know that I am self critical, so it's difficult to make evaluative goals - mine have to be concrete eg play in public (not saying anything about not getting booed or assaulted or arrested) , rather than that of @tatooandy67 "...play a single octave of a major scale in tune" yep, still trying to nail that:D
 

BigMartin

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There seems to be a bit of an Either/Or thing going on - if you set goals you're somehow missing the point of the joy of music, is that it?
That's not how I see it, really. I set myself goals all the time. But they are quite specific in terms of content and I don't put a time limit on them. For instance one of my goals at the moment is to play a certain set of triad arpeggio exercises in 8th notes at 120 bpm. It's taken quite a long time (months). I'm up to 112 bpm now. I don't know how long it will take to get to 120, and it doesn't matter to me because I can feel the benefits of doing the work.. However, I don't have goals like "learn these 12 songs by the end of December" or "Get a paid gig by the time I'm 65". I have no way of knowing if those goals are achievable, so I'd just be setting myself up to fail.

What you need to do is think "What's the worst thing about my playing?" (or the thing I'm least comfortable with) and then fix it. Then what's the new worst thing and so on. To my mind that's the main benefit of haveing a teacher. They can point out weaknesses you may not have noticed. I don't have one at the moment but I would if I was able to get to the lessons.
 

BigMartin

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And no, I don't know my scales! Jamey Aebersold lists 42(!!!) in How to Play Jazz.
Yes, it's really unhelpful of him isn't it :)? There you go then. Learn to play a C major scale. Keep at it until it's easy, ie you can do it while thinking about what to have for dinner. If you feel ready for it play it with a metrome to check the timing is nice and even. Play some tunes in C major and see if you notice how the scale work makes things easier and if they sound more in tune. When that's as good as you want it, try adding F major. And so on, for the rest of your musical life---there's always something.
 

MikeMorrell

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Hi @Zugzwang, my personal experience is that slumps (some longer than others:)) have been part and parcel of my learning to play music for as long as I can remember (on guitar and sax). My slumps have been valuable because they've made me realise that I'd not learned to play any better or differently for quite a while. I'd just been doing the same old, same old and - as you say - often playing less well than I remembered playing. It's not always easy to get out of a slump because motivation is often at a low level.

Two things have helped me get out of a slump (at least as far as motivation goes):
- hearing someone play in a way that inspired me to learn/practice something new or with more dedication
- hearing a piece of music that I really liked and - with a lot of practice - I thought I might just someday be able to play

Whatever the source of inspiration was (playing technique or the music) it had to be achievable (in weeks/months) from the skill level I was at.I found it of little use listening to a dazzling solo by a pro sax player and thinking "yes, that's how I'd like to play". The gap between his/her skill level and mine was so wide that bridging it was impossible.

What you play on sax (tunes, scales, riffs) and how you play (tone, technique) often develop together. But I think it's worth considering both separately. @kevgermany's suggestion to join a band (any band!) is a good one. My first sax teacher (6 months) advised me to do the same thing, You'd need to (learn to) read music but you learn so much!

FWIW I think your goals are far too long term (annual) and general to be easily achievable. In 'goals'' terminology', think of them as long-term 'Elephant goals' for the coming year or 2 and try to break them down into much smaller, manageable pieces. You might be able to "manage"" some these pieces (for example: learn to play quavers in the key of C from sheet music, learn to play semi-quavers in the key of C, learn to play in the key of F, stay aware of my breath support, stay aware of how open my throat is, etc)

My personal goals over the past few years have been to play sections of (for me challenging) music and more generally to improve my tone. But "improving tone" breaks down into sub-goals such as "check for optimum reed positioning, maintain good breath support", "maintain open throat", "maintain optimum tongue position", etc. I often forget all these when playing but they are all very specific goals.

If you don't have a teacher, I would encourage you to post a recording on the cafe. The cafe is not about "making a great recording" but about helping people to improve.
@Chris Smith UK sets an excellent example (from his first week on sax) in his thread absolute beginner

Mike

Thank you @BigMartin ,@tatooandy67 and @kevgermany for replying to me. (and to those who 'liked' their answers). I looked, and you all seem to have had or are having lessons. (And decades of playing experience) One of the primary functions of a teacher is to set goals that are appropriate to the age/experience of the pupil, and then give them the tools to achieve it. If I could afford a teacher, I would have one, and they would be the first person I would turn to.
In the absence of that I use this Cafe.
There seems to be a bit of an Either/Or thing going on - if you set goals you're somehow missing the point of the joy of music, is that it?
 

nigeld

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How about working through all the Klose exercises? That should keep you busy for a year!
Or if you would prefer something a bit more jazzy - 12 Modern Etudes for SoloSaxophone, by James Rae.
 

InWalkedBud

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Lots of great advice here! I'm also heading into year 3 of my return to amateur sax playing after a long hiatus. My initial motivation was being invited to gig at a local event, so I checked that box early on, and have played publicly several times since. It was always scary, but trust me, in a loud band, no one really notices if the horn is crap.

My first-year goal was to get a vintage King alto. My second-year goal was to learn tenor, which I'm now doing. For year 3, which just began, I'm working (belatedly) on long tones, overtones, and sight-reading solos I transcribe. Also planning to pick up another cheap tenor and some more gigs.

For Year 4: well, I met a young bari player at Howarth's a while back, and she really inspired me to try a vintage bighorn. Not many come up for sale in my neck of the woods, but I'm in no hurry, so can play the long con.
 
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Thanks for the shoutout @MikeMorrell :cool:
Hi @Zugzwang this is a great thread, well done for starting it. :clapping:

Personally, I find goal setting a great way to make progress, and stay motivated. I have short term goals (learn 4 Blues Scales before impro workshop in 6 weeks), medium term (learn 10 songs well enough to be able to go busking), long term (earn enough from busking to give up my day job).
So every day I practice things that will help me make progress towards those goals.

As @MikeMorrell said, I record a video of myself every day (squeaks, missed notes etc included) so I can see what progress I am making. I find these really motivating when I can see how much progress you can make in just one week learning a new song etc) (You can see examples of those videos at Chris Smith Saxophone
It can be frustrating if you feel you're not progressing, but doing this shows that you really are.
 
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Zugzwang

Zugzwang

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...play music that's right on the edge of your ability...
I wish.
I would of course have completely agreed with you, had you said "..completely outside your ability" . Certainly scaring myself senseless. :)
But look! New sax, and all accessories, including gloves, for less than £200 - I'm made up!
 
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Zugzwang

Zugzwang

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...I'm also heading into year 3 of my return to amateur sax playing after a long hiatus. .
:clapping:Yay! And those are the kind of annual goals, like the long term one of @Chris Smith UK to busk, that I recognise. (Though as I started reading your goal for Year 4 I wondered what your plans were for the Bari player...)

@MikeMorrell Thank you very much for taking the time to craft such a detailed response. I perhaps should have started by saying I also have shorter-term goals and indeed when I'm not completely slumping (currently taking on more bits of metal - or ceramic or carbon nano-tubing, whatever) I fill in a weekly worksheet which I downloaded - which is reassuringly compartmentalised, and serves to keep the overwhelm at bay. I'm invited to write my name at the top, and while I haven't done it yet, it's good to know that you get a tick even for that:p
I am in an extremely tolerant street band, and also, the jazz workshop is pretty er, public.
Were it not for that being the entire reason I started playing, I could reduce the sweaty fear by stopping going. but what if I don't ever get good enough? And what if they come to their senses in my absence? At least this way they have to sack me, which is always harder:cool:

... the Klose exercises?.
I love them, they are very reassuring, and luckily I have never heard them played, so my Lento, if not Grave renditions are a welcome respite from the breakneck pace of the StreetBand tunes, or the unspeakable tritone-substituted-upper-structure-weirdiness of the Jazz Workshop.
 
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